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  Texas : Features : Columns : "It's All Trew"

'My mama's cornbread'
discussion gets hot

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew
Eight people were sitting around a table in the Devil's Rope Museum in McLean eating stew and cornbread. The work party consisted of two people from New Mexico, two from Amarillo and the rest from McLean. A local lady had provided the meal for these hard-working volunteers.

Usually, these old friends were friendly and congenial. However, within minutes after the meal started, a serious, intense argument began. What was the argument about? The question of whose mama made the best cornbread. With each opinion voiced, the argument intensified.

"My Mama's cornbread was so light, fluffy and white it was unbelievable." "Ha," said another, "Might as well be cake. My mama made coarse, yellow cornbread like it was intended to be. Wimpy cornbread was thrown out." "My mother put sugar in her cornbread. It sure was good." "Yuk! We liked salt and pep-per in big doses." Another described his mama's cornbread as "Thick, heavy, with brown crust on the bottom and a golden crust on top. It was crunchy and not gummy like some people baked."

Consistency of cornbread came up next with the bunch equally divided on light and fluffy and heavy and coarse. Comments were made about fine ground, coarse ground, stone ground, and metate ground. Everyone condemned the ready-made, instant box recipes. Shape reared its ugly head with legitimate reasoning presented for round, square and rectangular cornbread pans. All liked cornbread baked in the shape of little ears of corn.

We learned a new high-tech procedure for buttering hot cornbread. Dan, from New Mexico, slices his cornbread open, adds one-quarter-inch-thick pads of butter per two-inch-square of surface. Replace the top, count to 20 and gently turn the cornbread upside down. This scientific approach provides an even coating of butter on all surfaces.

Food accompaniments came next with the favorites listed as pinto beans first, milk or buttermilk second, black-eyed peas third, and ham fourth. The addition of gravy left some smacking their lips and others a bit nauseated. As expected, the New Mexicans like jalapeno peppers, onions, and other delicacies I won't mention because of the Maalox moments involved.

In retrospect, I believe the subject was thoroughly and completely explored. Some of the ideas were great; others were ridiculous. I'm glad to learn of the high-tech buttering technique, which will be used the next time we have cornbread.

If all of the world's problems could be discussed to the depth that "my mama's cornbread" was discussed that day, I'm sure some very creative solutions would be discovered.

Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew" March 14 , 2004 column

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